GoGet’s vision to empower gig talent meets pandemic induced shift in Malaysia’s job market

  • Francesca Chia sees a day when it is normal to have multiple employers
  • Ultimately, goal is to bring gig work to same level as full time employment

"I 100% see a day when it is normal to have multiple employers,” predicts Francesca Chia, CEO and co-founder of leading gig platform, Eternal Meteor Sdn Bhd which operates in the market as GoGet.

GoGet’s vision to empower gig talent meets pandemic induced shift in Malaysia’s job marketGoGet is one of the earliest general purpose gig platforms in the country. Grab was the pioneer back in early 2012 but it was focused on ride sharing while GoGet, which was launched in 2015, started by offering the market talent for all kinds of blue collar, on-demand, short term work.

But you would be wrong on two accounts today if, first, you thought GoGet was still a blue collar, on-demand focused gig platform.

“Thirty per cent of our GoGetters want runner jobs (on demand) while the rest are actually interested in a wide swathe of roles but which we have found over the years to be mainly focused on the four areas of Admin/Operations/Sales & Marketing/Logistics,” says Francesca Chia, co-founder and CEO of Eternal Meteor Sdn Bhd which operates in the market under the GoGet brand.

[Ed: Para edited for accuracy.]

And you would also be wrong if you thought the majority of GoGetters were male. Well, you would be right, up till the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 when female GoGetters made up 30% of the talent pool. “The ratio shifted so much during the pandemic,” noted Francesca. It hit 45% in Oct 2021 and today almost half of new signups to become GoGetters in the past few months have been women.

“There is strong interest in flexi work today and this ranges from students who have not entered the work force officially to those who have retired but are still keen to offer their skills. Everyone has different needs,” she notes.

Those different needs and skill sets of GoGetters are proving to be a balm for an employment market where many employers, especially SMEs, cannot seem to find the relevant skills set they need, much less hope for the right person. Small and Medium sized Employers in the services sector are especially struggling mightily with this.


Unleashing GoGetters from their box

Looking at the market pain point today and its own growing community of GoGetters looking for roles beyond runner jobs, the thought hit GoGet. Why keep their GoGetters in a box? Why not leverage on the data they have about past work experiences, the kind of jobs taken on via the platform, the ratings from employers and the kinds of roles GoGetters are looking for and offer this up to the market for longer terms of employment up to even full time roles?

Enter GoGet Recruit launched in July which, for RM99 per job post, lets employers screen GoGetters based on past job experiences, training/education levels, their location and ratings given by past employers from of an active pool of 40,000+ verified part timers.

The experience from the pilot roll out has been good.

“The process of applying for jobs has been smooth. We are getting hourly notification of applicants with the added bonus of being able to see the applicants rating, location, age and job history,” says Bryan Teh Chia Wai, Human Resource Executive of BilaBila Mart Sdn Bhd.

Meanwhile, Christensi, Head of Admin at Mr Problem Sdn Bhd, called GoGet Recruit, "A reliable platform for hiring skilled part-timers to fill various kinds of job requirements."

Happy with the feedback, Francesca believes the addition of GoGet Recruit “completes the full cycle of our aim to empower GoGetters to have the freedom and make it easy to find a working arrangement that fits their needs.”

It has always been the founders’ vision to empower talent to earn flexibly in a safe and trusted platform.  “And, to ultimately bring gig work to the same level as full time employment by creating similar benefits such as networking, upskilling, enjoying pension benefits (launched with EPF in April 2022) and social security (launched as part of the PENJANA pandemic relief package in 2021) while offering GoGetters financial services such as savings, insurance and financial literacy,” Francesca adds.


A new wave of people interested in flexible work and its two drivers

Giving urgency to this vision is Francesca’s belief of a fundamental shift that has happened in Malaysia’s job market during the pandemic with a key consequence being that “we're seeing a new wave of people becoming interested to do flexible work”.

This shows in GoGet’s data as well. In May 2020, at the early stage of the pandemic when employers, especially SMEs started laying off workers, GoGet accepted 2,300 new workers to its platform.

Applications were higher but this was the number that passed its filter.

Fast forward to June and July of 2022 and it was at 2,300 and 3,000 new GoGetters respectively. What’s significant here is that this comes at a time when other gig platforms and employers have been suffering from a dearth of workers.

Aug and Sept showed even higher numbers with 12,000 new GoGetters joining the platform, followed by 7,000 in Sept.

Francesca sees two drivers here. Workers who suddenly lost their jobs or had their salaries cut in the early period of the pandemic in 2020 realized they had to take care of themselves and not rely on any employer anymore. Gig work was the obvious alternative.

The second driver was the desire for workers to be treated better, which manifests in two ways. “If employers who let workers go came back to employ them but were offering the same salaries, workers, already hit with higher cost of living, have decided it is not worth it, especially if they are going to be treated the same way as before,” says Francesca.

Many workers have thus decided that being on a gig platform gives them control over their work lives and direction. This is not a uniquely Malaysian trend either. Recent data reveals that 36% of the US workforce is in the Gig Economy while the global average stands at around 31%. Job satisfaction among US gig workers is high as well with 76% very satisfied with their choice.

It is not all rosy though. Certainly not in Malaysia where a United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) gig workers survey between Feb and Aug 2020 found that less than half of the workers sampled could meet their financial commitments. Most struggled to save for emergencies. A Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) survey the same year also found only 5% of the self-employed had enough savings to last for at least three months. GoGet has not run any such surveys in Malaysia yet.

Francesca does not downplay this reality and stresses that it only reinforces the need for a trusted Gig platform that goes beyond just matching workers to jobs and teaches financial literacy, encourages savings and offers upskilling opportunities.  


Gig Economy already a big part of Malaysia’s employment landscape

According to the International Labour Organization by 2020, there were more than 777 digital labour platforms - from food delivery to web design - around the world, up from about 140 a decade earlier. Which means, the Gig Economy is here to stay and is likely to become a bigger part of the employment picture. Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund (EPF) 2019 study estimated that nearly four in 10 Malaysian workers would be gig workers within the next five years. While there has been no follow-up to that EPF study, it is likely that the country has hit the 40% mark.

However one reality of the Gig Economy is that it is very much an urban phenomenon where most employment is created and workers have options of moving between jobs, be it in the same industry or switching industries. This choice gives them leverage, especially when labour is tight. This choice is not available to rural workers or even those in second tier cities, which is why GoGet is only available in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Bahru, having served more than 7,000 businesses and 40,000 GoGetters through its platform.

Despite that, Francesca believes the Gig Economy is already a big part of the Malaysian economy and will only become more important which means policy makers need to start paying a lot more attention to it and ensure beneficial policies are rolled out that cater for employer and worker needs.  

“People are going to have flexible working arrangements with multiple employers and more so with the younger generation coming up exposed to gig work and used to multiple income streams. And when they hit their 40s to 60s and become highly skilled talent, they are going to be working for multiple companies. I 100% see a day when it is normal to have multiple employers,” she predicts.

Such a reality reinforces the value of trusted gig platforms which bring demand and supply together while providing a holistic set of services to the workers on their platforms. Francesca is determined to build GoGet into a top of mind platform for this new reality.


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